New Delhi: The BRICS group of emerging economies, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has announced the induction of five new full members into its ranks, in a bid to expand its strategic heft and challenge the Western dominance in world affairs. The new members are Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, which joined the bloc on January 1, 2024.
The decision to admit the five new members was made at the 15th BRICS summit in Johannesburg in August 2023, where the leaders of the original five members endorsed a proposal to enlarge the group. The proposal initially included Argentina as well, but the South American country withdrew its application at the last minute, after its new president, Xavier Miley, took office in December 2023.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who assumed the rotating chairmanship of the group for 2024, hailed the expansion as a “historic” move that reflected the growing influence and role of the BRICS in international affairs. He said that the BRICS was attracting more supporters and like-minded countries that shared its core principles of sovereign equality, openness, consensus, and the aspiration to create a multipolar international system and a fair global financial and economic order.
The BRICS was formed in 2006 as an informal alliance of four major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC). It became a formal intergovernmental organization in 2010 after South Africa was accepted as a full member. Since then, the BRICS has established several initiatives to enhance its cooperation and coordination, such as the New Development Bank, the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, the BRICS payment system, the BRICS Joint Statistical Publication, and the BRICS basket reserve currency.
The BRICS accounts for about 27% of the world’s land surface, 42% of the global population, 27% of the gross world product, 33% of the global GDP (PPP), and 4.5 trillion US dollars in combined foreign reserves. It is also a major driver of global economic growth and development, contributing more than 50% of the world’s economic expansion in the past decade.
Putin said that under his chairmanship, the group would focus on the priorities of science, high technology, health care, environmental protection, culture, and sports cooperation. He said that more than 200 programs of different levels and types would be organized in various Russian cities throughout the year, and invited representatives of all countries interested in cooperating with the BRICS to participate in them. He also announced that the 16th BRICS summit would be held in Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, in October 2024.